Does The Bible Teach Everlasting Conscious Torment?
First, in Revelation 20:10, it states: “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Notice that it is not just the devil who will receive eternal conscious punishment, but those who followed him, which were the beast (Roman Emperors) and the false prophet (Roman cultic priests).
Second, in Revelation 21:8, the wicked are cast into the same lake of fire.
Third, a preview of what is to come is found in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In verses 23-25, 28 Jesus describes the condition of the unfaithful, rich man as “being in torments” and “tormented in this flame” (present tense, continuous action). In verses 23-24, 27-30 Jesus further describes the conscious state of the rich man: being fully aware of who he was, what his condition was, who Abraham and Lazarus were (and their condition) and even his five brothers’ dangerous condition.
Fourth, the word “destroy” in such passages as Matthew 10:28 does not mean “to go out of existence” but is from a Greek word that literally means “to ruin away” and is variously translated “destroy, lose/be lost, perish, ruin, depart, etc.” The loss does not refer to the loss of existence but the loss of well-being or usefulness. For example, Herod wanted to “destroy” the Child Jesus; that is, he wanted to render His earthly influence as useless by killing Him (Matthew 2:13). If Herod had succeeded, Jesus would still have existed. While in a dangerous storm Jesus’ disciples awakened Him and told Him they were perishing (present tense, continuous action) – not going out of existence (Matthew 8:25). In Matthew 10:6 Jesus commanded the twelve to go “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The Jews were “lost” in the sense of being separated spiritually from God, but they were not “out of existence.” This is how the word “destroy” is used in Matthew 10:28. In God’s final judgment on the wicked, He will “destroy both soul and body in hell”, that is, He will separate the wicked’s soul and body permanently in hell as they experience an eternal, conscious torment in the fiery lake (compare 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
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